In his pre-match press conference on Friday, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel confirmed that the club’s £97.5 million acquisition Romelu Lukaku would make his debut in the side’s Premier League matchday two fixture against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Returning for a second stint in London, but what does Lukaku bring to the table, and what can Chelsea fans expect to see from the man that has emerged from the boy that joined them as an 18-year-old ten years ago?
Romelu Lukaku Set for Second Debut Against London Rivals Arsenal
Lukaku Raring to Go
Lukaku’s primary style of play has not changed but has been refined over the years. The striker depends on his impressive strength and pace to move around defences. However, the big man has recently added a bit of nifty footwork to help him play more as a focal point and bring his fellow attacking players into the game.
An excellent example of this can be seen in the build-up to Kevin De Bruyne‘s goal for Belgium against Denmark at Euro 2020. The striker received the ball and was immediately sent wide with no feasible options around but showed good ball retention to skip past a couple of challenges before laying off the ball to Youri Tielemans and setting up the sequence of passes that ended with De Bruyne scoring.
In an interview with the in-house TV channel at Chelsea, Lukaku stated that he was comfortable playing in a front two as he did at Inter Milan, or playing by himself as a lone striker as he does for Belgium, proving his adaptability in two different roles and setups.
At Inter Milan, Antonio Conte made him the focal point of his attack in their title-winning season, resulting in Lukaku leading the team in almost every attacking statistic available. He created chances for runners who had the license to run in behind him whenever he held up play for his side. With the Belgium national team, he mostly attacked the space behind the defence, using his pace and movement to wreak havoc.
Lukaku Improved From the Previous Stint
Tuchel himself said that he was pleased with his side’s acquisition of Lukaku because the striker would allow him to play with different systems due to his adaptability. It is possible that Tuchel would pair Lukaku with the misfiring German Timo Werner or Kai Havertz. In this kind of pairing, either of those players can benefit from Lukaku’s power and passing. Lukaku can also play in a front three at Chelsea with two of Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz playing alongside him.
Number 9 Curse
After it was revealed that Lukaku would don the number nine shirt, the question of the number 9 curse was raised. The Number 9 curse has plagued the recipients of the number 9 shirt at the club in the last few years have been far from successful at the club. In recent years, notable recipients of the shirt include Radamel Falcao, Gonzalo Higuain, Alvaro Morata, Steve Sidwell, Khalid Boulahrouz and Tammy Abraham.
While Abraham had a better Chelsea career than the others in this category with his return of 30 goals in 82 matches is not a bad record, but he was not seen as good enough to lead the line. Lukaku would be hoping nothing of the sort comes into play as he looks set to unleash terror on Arsenal on Sunday, August 20th.